People who cultivate tastes and mindsets traditionally associated with those younger than themselves. It can be used as an adjective ("Those sneakers are so rejuvenile"), a noun ("Pee Wee Herman’s brand of rejuvenalia is more subversive than Raffi’s"), or, infrequently, a verb ("Most adults are busy rejuveniling,” filmmaker Randy Barbato remarked on National Public Radio shortly after I coined the word in an article in the New York Times.)
Defined by Concise Oxford Dictionary as “a middle-aged person whose clothes, interests, and activities are typically associated with youth culture.” After it was named the 2003 Word of the Year by the Websters New World College Dictionary, Jay Leno quipped, “Have you heard this word? It’s an adult who lives and acts like a child. Or as women call that—men.”
Condition defined by Madison, WI author, cartoonist and lecturer Jason Kotecki as “marked by chronic dullness, mild depression, moderate to extremely high stress levels, a general fear of change, and, in some extreme cases, the inability to smile… Onset can be accelerated by an excess burden of bills, overwhelming responsibilities, or a boring work life.”
Nerdy acronym for Adult Fans of Lego, coined by grown-ups who build complex Lego-based furniture, space stations, trains, and castles; see also Brick Filmakers, who create Lego stop-motion movies.
Celebratory banner adopted by adults who have made conscious decision not to have children; often rooted in desire to keep living as a child, except with all the freedoms and fewer of the responsibilities of adulthood. Preferred by advocates over childless.
Credited to former Disney honcho Jeffrey Katzenberg, who used it to describe his team of executives; since adopted by theme park insiders as pejorative nickname for obsessive fans of Disney, the most dedicated of whom spend five to seven days a week attending Disney theme parks. Fans favor Disney enthusiasts.
Intensely motivated adult collectors who arrange vacations around Barbie conventions and spend late nights studying eBay auction reports. Objects of obsession include American Girl dolls, Sasha Dolls, and hyper-feminine/aw-shucks-cute creations by celebrity designers Jane Seymour and Richard Simmons.
Phrase coined by conservative social critics to describe erosion of traditional morals in 1960s; since co-opted by marketers to describe Baby Boomers” preference for products and entertainment originally targeted at teens and post-adolescents. See: Honda Element, Harley Davidson, Eminem.
Grays on Trays
Ski slope slang for elder, sometimes arthritic snowboarders, whose tolerance for discomfort is lower, appetite for luxury keener, and gear-head tendencies more advanced.
Griffith Park Credo
Proclamation made by Walt Disney that theme park attractions should be suitable for all ages, so named because Disney dreamed it up while sitting in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park, excluded and bored, while his children rode a carousel. Credo was law of the land in Magic Kingdom in early years—even the Matterhorn roller coaster imposed no minimum age and height requirements until the seventies.
Tin-eared contraction of grown-ups borrowed from Star Trek episode by New York Magazine and repurposed to describe adults who look, talk, act, and dress like tweenty-two-year-olds. Mostly used in association with tastes in music or fashion, in particular the urban hipster taste for distressed denim, New Wavish indie rock, and canvas messenger bags.
Indoor Play Center
Industry term for brightly lit, heavily padded mini-gymnasiums that have popped up by the thousand in minimalls and storefronts in 1990s and 2000s. Favorite gathering place for overstimulated tots and Playalong Parents. See: Gymboree, Bright Child, Mumbo Jumbo Children’s Indoor Play Center.
Social critics who see the rejuvenile impulse as destructive, regressive, and quite possibly, a harbinger of the collapse of Western Civilization. Ranks include semiotician Marcel Danesi, poet Robert Bly, and sociologist Frank Furedi. Harrumphing Codgers recoil from adults with kidcentric tastes and look back wistfully to a time when young people endured epic hardship (world wars, economic depression) and emerged as restrained and productive adults.
New breed of supposedly supernatural children first described by mystics Lee Carroll and Jan Tober in their 1999 book The Indigo Children. Idea is that some 90 percent of all newborns represent a more evolved, spiritually attuned form of human. Discovery was quickly followed by announcement of another, even more enlightened breed: The Crystal Child.
Japanese word roughly translated as “cute” or “adorable,” used to describe kid centric products and entertainment that appeals to adults. See: Hello Kitty, Pokemon, Hayao Miyazaki"s My Neighbor Totoro.
Toy industry acronym for market phenomenon known as “kids grow older younger.” Also known as “age compression,” phrase grew out of mid-eighties observation that children who were once content playing with blocks, action figures, and the like until the age of fourteen were tossing such toys aside at eight, declaring them “too babyish.” More recently, industry observers have noted parallel phenomenon AGYL, which stands for “adults get younger later.”
Mash-up of “adult” and “kid” to describe person who enjoys being part of youth culture, more commonly used in U.K. and Europe; defined by an Italian toy company of same name as “adults who take care of their kid inside.”
The Nag Factor
Fearsome psychological tactic exerted by children intent on convincing parents to buy them things, often unexpectedly resulting in adult appreciation for kidcentric products and entertainment. See: Bratz and My Scene dolls, Kidz Bop CDs.
Biological process in which certain juvenile physical characteristics are retained into maturity. Based largely on anatomical comparisons between humans and apes, neoteny holds that what gives humans edge over other species is how much we retain qualities of childhood into adult years. Cited as biological basis for rejuvenile phenomenon; anthropologist Ashley Montagu concluded that “The truth about the human species is that in body, spirit, feeling and conduct we are designed to grow and develop in ways that maximize childlike traits.”
One of many entries in marketing-speak derby to describe resurgent popularity of retro brands among the coveted 18-34 demographic. Credited to Becky Ebenkamp at Brandweek magazine and Jeff Odiorne, then a partner at the San Francisco agency Odiorne Wilde Narraway & Partners. See: Converse Chuck Taylors, Strawberry Shortcake cartoons, Schoolhouse Rock.
Mothers and fathers whose approach to parenting does not exclude—indeed is centered on—wiffle ball tournaments, princess tea parties, and cartoon marathons. Derided by followers of “hard school” of parenting (see: James Dobson, John Rosemond) as destructive abdication of parental authority; cautiously celebrated by “soft school” experts (see: William Crain, Stanley Greenspan) as healthy tool for bonding and mutual enjoyment.
Arcane sub-genre of children"s music that features high-pitched vocals in novelty covers of hit pop singles. The Beatles of Rodent Rock were Alvin and the Chipmunks; the Lester Bangs of Rodent Rock is Chicago critic Jake Austen.
Transformation of cars, electronics, computers and housewares from purely utilitarian to positively toy-like. See: polka-dot-like VW Beetle, Lego-shaped Honda Element, candy-colored iPod Mini.
Buzzword advanced in 2005 by Time Magazine in to describe unsettled young adults who “hop from job to job and date to date, having fun but seemingly going nowhere.”
Preferred collector term for pricy, odd, often grotesque art toys made by underground designers and illustrators and sold online or at specialty boutiques in gentrified burgs of Tokyo, Brooklyn, and Los Angeles. Favorite motifs include deformed animals, militant schoolchildren, and mutant aliens. Specialty publications include Clutter and Hi-Fructose magazines.